7 - The secret at the heart of the world - Nazi Cosmology and Belief in the Hollow Earth

For readers encountering the field of Nazi Occultism (and its unholy spawn, contemporary belief in genuine Nazi occult power) for the first time, the Hollow Earth Theory may well prompt a sigh of exasperation.

 

We have already examined a number of esoteric concepts that may be more or less unpalatable to the modern mind; the realm we are about to enter, however, may be considered both the most ridiculous and the most sinister yet, since it constitutes both a synthesis and a further development of the strange ideas promulgated by the volkisch occultists and, later, by the philosophers and pseudoscientists of the Third Reich.

 

As we shall see in this chapter, the concept of the hollow Earth -and the related notion of vast, inhabited caverns within a solid Earth - have come to occupy a central position in the fields of ufology, conspiracy theory, fringe science and Nazi-survival theories.

 

Indeed, the relevance of these subjects to the belief systems that define late-twentieth-century popular occultism may come as a surprise to many readers.
 


The Provenance of the Hollow Earth Theory
Of all the strange and irrational beliefs held by the Nazis, the most bizarre is surely the idea that our planet is not a sphere floating in the emptiness of space, but rather is a hollow bubble, with everything - people, buildings, continents, oceans and even other planets and stars - existing on the inside.

 

The origin of this curious notion, which would be developed and accepted in the twentieth century by people such as Peter Bender, Dr Heinz Fisher and many members of the German Admiralty, can be traced back to the seventeenth century and the writings of the Jesuit Athanasius Kircher (1602-1680), who speculated on conditions beneath the surface of the Earth in a treatise written in 1665 entitled Mundus Subterraneus (The Subterranean World).

 

In this work, Kircher draws on the theories and speculations of various medieval geographers about the unexplored north and south polar regions.

 

As Joscelyn Godwin notes, Kircher paid particular attention to the thirteenth-century friar Bartholomew of England, who maintained that,

'at the North Pole there is a black rock some 33 leagues in circumference, beneath which the ocean flows with incredible speed through four channels into the subpolar regions, and is absorbed by an immense whirlpool'. (1)

Having entered this whirlpool, the waters then travel through a myriad 'recesses' and 'channels' inside the planet and finally emerge in the ocean at the South Pole (the continent of Antarctica had yet to be discovered).

Kircher's justification for his ideas was ingenious, if utterly flawed. He claimed that the polar vortices must exist, otherwise the northern and southern oceans would be still and would thus become stagnant, releasing noxious vapors that would prove lethal to life on Earth. In addition, he believed that the movement of water through the body of the Earth was analogous both to the recently discovered circulation of the blood and to the animal digestive system, with elements in sea water extracted for the production of metals and the waste voided at the South Pole. (2)

 

This likening of the Earth to a single, living entity will doubtless call to mind certain New Age concepts, in particular the so-called 'Gaia Hypothesis'. (While New Ageism might appear to be nothing but benign, concerned as it is with the spiritual evolution of humanity, it does contain certain aspects that are more sinister and potentially dangerous.)

The seventeenth-century writer Thomas Burnet (1635?-1715) also suggested that water circulated through the body of the Earth, issuing from an opening at the North Pole. In 1768, this idea was further developed by Alexander Colcott, who added an interesting and portentous twist: Godwin suggests that he may have been the first to theorize that, once inside the Earth, the water joined a vast, concave ocean - in other words, that the Earth was actually a hollow globe. (3)

In the eighteenth century, the Hollow Earth Theory carried far more intellectual currency than it does now: even the illustrious Sir Edmund Halley (1656-1742), discoverer of the comet that carries his name, proposed in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of 1692 that the Earth was a hollow sphere containing two additional concentric spheres, at the centre of which was a hot core, a kind of central sun.

 

The Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler (1707-1783) concurred and, indeed, went somewhat further, stating that there 'was a center sun inside the Earth's interior, which provided daylight to a splendid subterranean civilization'. (4)

The apparent credibility of these theories resulted in a brand new subgenre of fantastic literature. Godwin provides a brief rundown, based on the work of the French author Michel Lamy, of the most significant of these tales:

While medieval theology, as celebrated in Dante's Divine Comedy, had found the interior of the earth to be a suitable location for Hell, later writers began to imagine quite the contrary. The universal philosopher Guillaume Postel, in his Compendium Cosmographicum (1561) and the topographer Georg Braun, in his Urbium praecipuarum totius mundi (1581), suggested that God had made the Earthly Paradise inaccessible to mankind by stowing it beneath the North Pole.

 

Among the early novels on the theme of a Utopia beneath the surface of the earth are the Chevalier de Mouhy's Lamekis, ou les voyages extraordinaires d'un Egyptien dans la Terre interieure (Lamekis, or the extraordinary voyages of an Egyptian in the inner earth, 1737), and Ludvig Baron von Holberg's Nicholas Klim (1741), the latter much read in Holberg's native Denmark. Giovanni Jacopo Casanova, the adventurer and libertine, also situated Paradise inside the earth.

In Icosameron (1788), a work supposedly translated by him from the English, he describes the twenty-one years passed by his heroes Edward and Elizabeth among the 'megamicros,' the original inhabitants of the 'protocosm' in the interior of our globe. One way into this realm is through the labyrinthine caves near Lake Zirchnitz, a region of Transylvania.

 

The megamicros issue from bottomless wells and assemble in temples, clad in red coats. Their gods are reptiles, with sharp teeth and a magnetic stare. (5)

 

The literature of the Romantic era, needless to say, is rich in fantasies of polar mysteries and lands within the earth.

 

The best known works are probably George Sand's Laura ou le voyage dans le crystal (Laura, or the voyage in the Crystal); Edgar Alien Poe's The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym; Alexander Dumas's Isaac Laquedem; Bulwer Lytton's The Coming Race [see Chapter Three]; Jules Verne's Voyage au centre de la terre (Voyage to the Centre of the Earth) and Le Sphinx des glaces (The Sphinx of the Ice).

 

Novels by later and less distinguished authors include William Bradshaw's The Goddess of Atvatabar (1892), Robert Ames Bennet's Thyra, a Romance of the Polar Pit (1901), Willis George Emerson's The Smoky God (1908), and the Pellucidarian stories of Edgar Rice Burroughs, creator of Tarzan. (6)

In view of the exciting potential of the Hollow Earth Theory, not to mention the literary vogue for such romantic fictions, it was only a matter of time before someone had the bright idea of actually searching for the entrances to the mysterious world apparently lying beneath humanity's feet.

 

Such a man was John Cleves Symmes (1780-1829), who spent a good portion of his life trying to convince the world not only that the Earth was hollow, but that it would be worthwhile to finance an expedition, under his leadership, to find a way inside.
 


'I Declare the Earth is Hollow ... '
A native of New Jersey, Symmes enlisted in the United States Army where he distinguished himself for bravery in the French and Indian Wars. Evidently a man of considerable personal integrity, he married a widow named Mary Anne Lockwood in 1808, and ensured that her inheritance from her husband was used to raise her five children (he had five of his own). In 1816, he retired with the rank of Captain and became a trader in St Louis. (7)

 

Two years later, Symmes first announced his beliefs to the world, thus:

CIRCULAR

Light gives light to discover - ad infinitum

St Louis, Missouri Territory, North America

April 10, AD 1818

To all the World:

I declare the earth is hollow and habitable within; containing a number of solid concentric spheres, one within the other, and that it is open at the poles twelve or sixteen degrees. I pledge my life in support of this truth, and am ready to explore the hollow, if the world will support and aid me in the undertaking.

Jno. Cleves Symmes Of Ohio, late Captain of Infantry.

N.B. - I have ready for the press a treatise on the principles of matter, wherein I show proofs of the above positions, account for various phenomena, and disclose Dr. Darwin's 'Golden Secret.'

My terms are the patronage of THIS and the NEW WORLDS.

I dedicate to my wife and her ten children.

I select Dr. S.L. Mitchell, Sir H. Davy, and Baron Alexander Von Humboldt as my protectors.

I ask one hundred brave companions, well equipped, to start from Siberia, in the fall season, with reindeer and sleighs, on the ice of the frozen sea; I engage we will find a warm and rich land, stocked with thrifty vegetables and animals, if not men, on reaching one degree northward of latitude 82; we will return in the succeeding spring.

J.C.S. (8)

Of all the academic societies in America and Europe to which Symmes sent his circular, only the French Academy of Sciences in Paris bothered to respond - and that was to say, in effect, that the theory of concentric spheres inside the Earth was nonsense.

 

Undaunted by the total lack of academic interest in his ideas, Symmes spent the next ten years travelling around the United States, giving lectures and trying to raise sufficient funds to strike out for the interior of the planet. He petitioned Congress in 1822 and 1823 to finance his expedition, and even secured 25 votes the second time. (9) Ultimately, the strain of constant travelling and lecturing took its toll on Symmes's health. He died at Hamilton, Ohio on 29 May 1829. His grave in the Hamilton cemetery is marked by a stone model of the hollow Earth, placed there by his son, Americus.

Symmes's theory of the hollow Earth is described principally in two books: Symmes's Theory of Concentric Spheres (1826) by James McBride, and The Symmes Theory of Concentric Spheres (1878) by Americus Symmes. (10) (Symmes himself wrote a novel, under the pseudonym 'Captain Adam Seaborn', entitled Symzonia A Voyage of Discovery, published in 1820.)

 

As Martin Gardner notes, in these books, 'Hundreds of reasons are given for believing the earth hollow - drawn from physics, astronomy, climatology, the migration habits of animals, and the reports of travelers. Moreover, a hollow planet, like the hollow bones of the body, would be a sturdy and economical way for the Creator to arrange things.' (11)

As we have noted, the Hollow Earth Theory attracted the attention of many writers of fiction. Aside from the best-known mentioned above, a number of minor authors explored the topic. In 1871, for instance, Professor William F. Lyon published The Hollow Globe, or the World's Agitator or Reconciler that included many bizarre speculations on open polar seas, the electro-magnetic origin of earthquakes (which were thought impossible unless the world were hollow) and the theory of gravitation (which needed considerable reworking in view of the drastically reduced mass of a hollow planet).

 

The text of the book was apparently received during mediumistic trances by a Dr Sherman and his wife, with Professor Lyon transcribing the material. Among the many curious revelations in this book is the 'great fact that this globe is a hollow or spherical shell with an interior as well as an exterior surface, and that it contains an inner concave as well as outer convex world, and that the inner is accessible by an extensive spirally formed aperture, provided with a deep and commodious channel suited to the purposes of navigation for the largest vessels that float, and that this aperture may be found in the unexplored open Polar Sea'. (12)

The Reverend Dr William F. Warren, President of Boston University, published his book Paradise Found in 1885, in which he argued for the origin of the human race at the North Pole. While Warren did not claim that the Earth was hollow, his book nevertheless added to the speculation on the significance of the polar regions, and the idea that the solution to the mystery of humanity's origin might lie there. (13)

In 1896, John Uri Lloyd published his book Etidorhpa (the title is 'Aphrodite' reversed). One of the strangest books on the subject, Etidorhpa tells the story of one Llewellyn Drury, a Mason and seeker after mystery, who encounters a telepathic humanoid creature without a face.

 

The creature takes Drury into a deep cave in Kentucky, and the two emerge on the inner surface of the Earth, where the adventurer is taught to levitate beneath the rays of the central sun. (14)
 


A Single Bubble in Infinite Nothingness
In 1870, perhaps the strangest of all alternative cosmological theories was formulated by Cyrus Teed: the theory that not only is the Earth hollow but we are the ones living on the inside.

 

Born in 1839 in Delaware County, New York, Teed received a Baptist upbringing. After a spell as a private with the United States Army, he attended the New York Eclectic Medical College in Utica, New York. (Eclecticism was an alternative form of medicine that relied on herbal treatments.) It seems that Teed was greatly troubled by the concept of infinite space, which he could not reconcile with the well-ordered Universe of the Scriptures.

 

While he accepted that the Earth was round (he had little choice, since it had been circumnavigated), he found the notion of a ball of rock floating endlessly through an infinite void so unsettling that he set about attempting to formulate an alternative structure for the observable Cosmos.

The answer apparently came to him in a vision in his alchemical laboratory in Utica at midnight one night in 1869. A beautiful woman appeared before him, telling him of the previous lives he had lived, how he was destined to become a messiah, and about the true structure of the Universe. Under the pseudonym Koresh (the Hebrew for Cyrus), Teed published two works: The Illumination of Koresh: Marvellous Experience of the Great Alchemist at Utica, N.Y and The Cellular Cosmogony.

 

In his splendid book Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science, Martin Gardner summarizes the key points of Teed's outrageous cosmology:

The entire cosmos, Teed argued, is like an egg. We live on the inner surface of the shell, and inside the hollow are the sun, moon, stars, planets, and comets. What is outside? Absolutely nothing! The inside is all there is. You can't see across it because the atmosphere is too dense. The shell is 100 miles thick and made up of seventeen layers.

The inner five are geologic strata, under which are five mineral layers, and beneath that, seven metallic ones. A sun at the center of the open space is invisible, but a reflection of it is seen as our sun. The central sun is half light and half dark. Its rotation causes our illusory sun to rise and set. The moon is a reflection of the earth, and the planets are reflections of 'mercurial discs floating between the laminae of the metallic planes'. The heavenly bodies we see, therefore, are not material, but merely focal points of light, the nature of which Teed worked out in great detail by means of optical laws ...

The earth, it is true, seems to be convex, but according to Teed, it is all an illusion of optics. If you take the trouble to extend a horizontal line far enough, you will always encounter the earth's upward curvature. Such an experiment was actually carried out in 1897 by the Koreshan Geodetic Staff, on the Gulf Coast of Florida.

 

There are photographs in later editions of the book showing this distinguished group of bearded scientists at work. Using a set of three double T-squares - Teed calls the device a 'rectilineator' - they extended a straight line for four miles along the coast only to have it plunge finally into the sea [thus proving the Earth to be a concave sphere]. Similar experiments had been conducted the previous year on the surface of the Old Illinois Drainage Canal. (15)

As Gardner observes, Teed was undoubtedly a pseudo-scientist and displayed all the paranoia and obfuscation associated with that fascinating and infuriating group. His explanations of the structure of the Universe (the ways in which planets and comets are formed, for instance) were couched in impossible-to-understand terms such as 'cruosic force', 'coloric substance' and 'afferent and efferent fluxions of essence'.

 

In addition, he bitterly attacked orthodox science, which sought to impose its erroneous view of reality on a 'credulous public'. He likened himself '(as does almost every pseudo-scientist) to the great innovators of the past who found it difficult to get their views accepted'. (16)

Teed's scientific pronouncements were combined with apocalyptic religious elements, as demonstrated in the following prophetic announcement:

We are now approaching a great biological conflagration. Thousands of people will dematerialize, through a biological electro-magnetic vibration. This will be brought about through the direction of one mind, the only one who has a knowledge of the law of this bio-alchemical transmutation. The change will be accomplished through the formation of a biological battery, the laws of which are known only to one man.

 

This man is Elijah the prophet, ordained of God, the Shepherd of the Gentiles and the central reincarnation of the ages. From this conflagration will spring the sons of God, the biune offspring of the Lord Jesus, the Christ and son of God. (17)

Unfortunately for Teed, his revelations did not prove of any great interest to the natives of Utica, who took to calling him the 'crazy doctor' and sought their medical advice elsewhere. With his medical practice facing ruin and his wife already having left him, Teed decided to take to the road to spread his curious word. As a travelling orator, he was a spectacular success (he is said to have earned $60,000 in California alone). (18)

 

He was particularly popular in Chicago, where he settled in 1886 and founded first the College of Life and later Koreshan Unity, a small communal society.

In the 1890s, Teed bought a small piece of land just south of Fort Meyers, Florida, and built a town called Estero. He referred to the town as 'the New Jerusalem', predicted that it would become the capital of the world, and told his followers to expect the arrival of eight million believers. The actual number who arrived was something of a disappointment, being closer to 200; nevertheless, the happy, efficient and hard-working community seems to have functioned extremely well. Their strange ideas notwithstanding, the members, male and female alike, were treated as equals, which is no bad thing. (19)

Teed died in 1908 after being beaten by the Marshal of Fort Meyers. He had claimed that after his death he would be taken up into Heaven with his followers. They dutifully held a prayer vigil over his body, awaiting the event that, unsurprisingly, did not take place. As Teed's body started to decompose, the county health officer arrived and ordered Teed's burial. He was finally interred in a concrete tomb on an island off the Gulf Coast. In 1921 a hurricane swept the tomb away: Teed's body was never found. (20)

As we shall see shortly, in Germany a theory comparable to Teed's was developed by an aviator named Peter Bender. Although Bender himself would die in a Nazi prison camp, his Hollow Earth Doctrine (Hohlweltlehre) found many followers in the Third Reich, including some naval leaders who thought that it might be possible to spy on British naval movements by pointing their radar beams up!

 

As with the more conventional (!) Hollow Earth Theory, there are many people who still fervently believe that we are living on the inside of a hollow sphere.
 


The Hollow Earth in the Twentieth Century
Instead of going the way of other strange notions about the nature of the Universe and collapsing in the face of empirical science, the Hollow Earth Theory survived the end of the nineteenth century, refusing to be banished to the realm of the defunct and disproved. Indeed, in spite of its utter erroneousness, its elegance, romance and air of fantastic mystery ensured it a place in the hearts of those who felt dismayed by the arrogance of orthodox science, not to mention the arrogance of the world's leaders.

 

As we shall see, its very simplicity enabled (and still enables) believers to use it as a template for all manner of esoteric 'truths', conspiracy theories and 'proofs' of the secret nefarious activities of governments. This will become especially apparent when we examine the corollary to the Hollow Earth Theory which, for want of a better expression, we might term the Subterranean Cavern Theory.

 

The idea that the planet is honeycombed with vast cave systems, many of which are inhabited by highly advanced beings and monstrous creatures, developed through the combination of Eastern mysticism (see Chapter Four) with Hollow Earth beliefs, and resulted in a frighteningly paranoid and bizarre scenario that includes the machinations of a secret, one-world government, clandestine alien occupation of our planet, and attempts to perfect mind-control of Earth's population.

 

We will examine these subjects, together with the perceived involvement of the Nazis in their development, a little later; but for now, let us return to the status of the Hollow Earth Theory at the opening of the twentieth century.

The first important book of the twentieth century to deal with the theory was The Phantom of the Poles by William Reed, published in 1906. This book was the first serious attempt to gather evidence for a hollow Earth, the 'phantom' of the title being a reference to the poles' existence only as locations in space, and not points on the Earth's surface. The only major alteration Reed made to earlier versions of the theory was to reduce the size of the openings at the North and South Poles to a few hundred miles instead of several thousand. The reason for this was that expeditions had been pushing further and further into the polar regions, without finding any evidence of vast openings into the Earth's interior.

 

This refinement notwithstanding, Reed reiterated the beliefs of earlier theorists:

'The earth is hollow. The Poles, so long sought, are phantoms. There are openings at the northern and southern extremities. In the interior are vast continents, oceans, mountains and rivers. Vegetable and animal life are evident in the New World, and it is probably peopled by races unknown to dwellers on the Earth's surface.' (21)

In 1913, William Gardner published his book A Journey to the Earth's Interior or, Have the Poles Really Been Discovered? The book contained the now-famous illustration of the Earth with half of its northern hemisphere cut away to reveal the continents and oceans within.

 

According to Gardner, the central sun was 600 miles in diameter, and its surface was 2,900 miles from the inner surface of the Earth. The polar openings were 1,400 miles wide, and the planetary shell was 800 miles thick. Like Reed and others before him, Gardner believed that conditions within the Earth were extremely pleasant, akin to some semi-tropical paradise. Like Symmes, he attempted to gather sufficient funds for an expedition, without success. At the end of A Journey to the Earth's Interior, Gardner wrote of his hope that one day, with the aid of airships, the openings would be proved to exist.(22)

 

Of course, the advent of routine manned flight proved his theory wrong, although, as we shall see later in this chapter, the words of one famous explorer who flew over the poles have been twisted by hollow Earth believers to imply things he never intended.
 


Horbiger's World Ice Theory
While not proposing that the Earth is hollow, the World Ice Theory (Welteislehre, or WEL) of Hans Horbiger (1860-1931) amply demonstrates how outrageously inaccurate cosmological models can be used for political and propaganda purposes. Such was the case with Horbiger's Glazial-Kosmogonie, which the Viennese mining engineer wrote in collaboration with an amateur astronomer and which Martin Gardner calls 'one of the great classics in the history of crackpot science'. (23)

 

Although ridiculed by astronomers in Germany - and by just about everyone else in the rest of the world - the World Ice Theory was to gain a fanatical following in Nazi Germany, where it was seen as a brilliant refutation of the orthodox materialistic science personified by the Jewish scientist Albert Einstein. Indeed, according to the rocket scientist Willy Ley (whom we have already met in Chapter Three and will meet again in the next chapter), supporters of this theory acted very much like a miniature political party, issuing leaflets, posters and circulars, and publishing a monthly journal, The Key to World Events. (24)

 

Pauwels and Bergier offer a revealing snapshot of their behavior:

[Horbiger] seemed to have considerable funds at his disposal, and operated like a party leader. He launched a campaign, with an information service, recruiting offices, membership subscriptions, and engaged propagandists and volunteers from among the Hitler Youth.

 

The walls were covered with posters, the newspapers filled with announcements, tracts were distributed and meetings organized. When astronomers met in conference their meetings were interrupted by partisans shouting: 'Down with the orthodox scientists!'

 

Professors were molested in the streets; the directors of scientific institutes were bombarded with leaflets: 'When we have won, you and your like will be begging in the gutter.' Businessmen and heads of firms before engaging an employee made him or her sign a declaration saying: 'I swear that I believe in the theory of eternal ice.' (25)

Horbiger was deeply fascinated by the origin and behavior of moons, believing that they held the key to the way in which the Universe functions. For example, our present moon, Luna, is not the only satellite that the Earth has had: there have been at least six others, all of which crashed into the Earth, causing massive geological upheavals, so Horbiger believed.

 

According to Horbiger, too, space is not a vacuum but is filled with hydrogen, which has the effect of slowing down celestial bodies in their courses, causing them to spiral in gradually towards their parent body. This, he maintained, is the ultimate fate of the Solar System, with all of the planets falling into the Sun. As they head inexorably towards their parent star, smaller planets occasionally are captured by larger worlds, becoming temporary satellites.

The Austrian engineer's theories were taken up and developed after his death by a British mythologist named Hans Schindler Bellamy, who wrote a book entitled Moons, Myths and Man based on the World Ice Theory. (26)

 

Martin Gardner provides us with an admirably condensed summary of his odd beliefs. Bellamy concentrated his research on the period in which the pre-Lunar moon orbited Earth: since humanity was present at this time, it was able to preserve a record of the moon's cataclysmic collision with the Earth in the form of myths and legends. Bellamy refers to this satellite as the 'tertiary moon'.

 

As it spiralled closer and closer to the Earth, its gravitational field pulled the world's oceans into a 'girdle tide', a gigantic, raised belt of water rising up from the equator. Humanity was forced by the resulting planet-wide glaciation to live in mountainous regions on either side of the girdle tide. As the tertiary moon drew closer, its orbital velocity increased until it was circling the Earth six times every day, its scarred and pitted surface apparently giving rise to the legends of dragons and other flying monsters.

When the moon reached a certain distance from the Earth, the planet's stronger gravitational field tore the satellite apart The result was planet-wide rains and hail storms (all moons having thick coatings of ice on their surfaces), followed by bombardments of gigantic rocks and boulders as the moon finally disintegrated. With the moon gone, the girdle-tide of water collapsed, resulting in the Biblical Deluge.

Eventually, the Earth recovered from its titanic bruising, and this period of tranquility gave rise to the legends of a Golden Age and earthly Paradise. However, with the arrival of the present moon, Luna, about 13,500 years ago, chaos reigned once again, with earthquakes, axial shifts and glaciation disfiguring the face of the planet. According to Bellamy, the Atlantean civilization was destroyed in this cataclysm. He also believed that the Book of Revelation is actually a historical account of the destruction of the tertiary moon, and Genesis a description of the Earth's recovery following the collision.

For his own part, Horbiger claimed that Luna is covered with a coating of ice 140 miles thick, and that ice also covers Mercury, Venus and Mars. In fact, the famous 'canals' on Mars (now known to be an optical illusion) are, in Horbiger's warped cosmology, cracks on the surface of a 250-mile-deep frozen sea on the Martian surface.

 

The Universe, Horbiger maintained, was packed with gigantic blocks of ice, the action of which accounted for the majority of astronomical events. The Milky Way, for instance, was actually a ring of enormous blocks of ice, not hundreds of millions of stars as the doctored photographs of orthodox astronomy implied. Like moons, the blocks of ice also encounter resistance from the hydrogen with which space is filled, and also spiral into the Sun, causing sunspots when they hit.

Of course, the fact that a theory was idiotic was no barrier to its success in the Third Reich, and the World Ice Theory was eagerly embraced and disseminated by the Propaganda Ministry Willy Ley records some of the statements made by representatives of the cult of WEL in its literature:

Our Nordic ancestors grew strong in ice and snow; belief in the World Ice is consequently the natural heritage of Nordic Man.

Just as it needed a child of Austrian culture - Hitler! -to put the Jewish politicians in their place, so it needed an Austrian to cleanse the world of Jewish science.

The Fuhrer, by his very life, has proved how much a so-called 'amateur' can be superior to self-styled professionals; it needed another 'amateur' to give us complete understanding of the universe. (27)

Gardner, writing in the 1950s, ends his discussion of Horbiger with the amusing comment (from our present perspective) that 'the Cosmic Ice Theory will find disciples until the first spaceship lands on the cratered surface of an iceless moon'. (28)

 

He was certainly correct, and Horbiger was certainly incorrect. However, it is difficult to resist the temptation to note the recent discovery of large ice deposits at the lunar poles, and the theory that they are the result of cometary impacts - comets being, of course, gigantic lumps of ice ...
 


The Phantom Universe
The island of Rugen in the Baltic was the site of one of the most bizarre and misguided strategies of the Second World War. In April 1942, an expedition under the leadership of the infra-red ray specialist Dr Heinz Fisher and equipped with state-of-the-art radar sets landed on Rugen and began to make a series of observations.

 

Fisher ordered the radar sets to be pointed at an angle of 45 into the sky, a position they maintained for several days. The reason for this peculiar experiment was to prove that the Earth is not a sphere floating in space but is actually a bubble set in an infinity of rock. With the radar pointed upwards at a 45 angle, it was hoped that the beams would be reflected back from objects at some distance along the internal surface of the bubble.

 

It was also hoped that the radar would provide Fisher's team with an image of the British Fleet at Scapa Flow. (29)

According to Professor Gerard S. Kuiper of the Mount Palomar Observatory, who wrote several articles on the Hollow Earth Theory: 'High officials in the German Admiralty and Air Force believed in the theory of a hollow Earth. They thought this would be useful for locating the whereabouts of the British Fleet, because the concave curvature of the Earth would facilitate long-distance observation by means of infra-red rays, which are less curved than visible rays.' (30)

Although they are not the most reliable of sources, Pauwels and Bergier nevertheless make a good point in their occult classic The Morning of the Magicians when they note that if our modern civilization is unified by anything, it is by the fundamental agreement we reach over cosmology - in other words, we are at least able to agree that the Earth is a near-spherical object drifting in an immense void several billion light years in radius.

 

It is one of the many indicators of the baffling and terrifying perversity of the Nazis that so many of them believed in this ridiculous inversion of reality:

The defenders of the Hollow Earth theory, who organized the famous para-scientific expedition to the island of Rugen, believed that we are living inside a globe fixed into a mass of rock extending to infinity, adhering to its concave sides. The sky is in the middle of this globe; it is a mass of bluish gas, with points of brilliant light which we mistake for stars. There are only the Sun and the Moon - both infinitely smaller than the orthodox astronomers think. This is the entire Universe. We are all alone, surrounded by rock. (31)

The origin of this idea, as applied in Nazi Germany, can be traced to 1918 and a young German aviator, Peter Bender, who came upon some old copies of Cyrus Teed's periodical, The Sword of Fire. Bender developed and 'refined' the theory (if such a term can be used) into what he called the Hohlweltlehre (Hollow World Theory), also enlisting the strange ideas of Marshall B. Gardner who had claimed that the Sun is actually inside the Earth on whose surface we are kept not by gravity but by the pressure of sunlight. (32)

 

Bender claimed that the hollow bubble of the Earth was the same size as we believe our spherical Earth to be, with solar radiation keeping everything pressed to the concave surface. Beneath our feet is an infinite mass of rock; above our heads the atmosphere stretches to 45 miles, beyond which there is a hard vacuum. At the centre of this vacuum there are three objects: the Sun, the Moon and the Phantom Universe, which is a globe of blue gas containing the shining points of light astronomers mistake for stars.

It is night over a part of this concave Earth when the blue mass passes in front of the Sun, and the shadow of this mass on the Moon produces eclipses ... This theory of Bender's became popular round about the 1930s. The rulers of Germany and officers of the Admiralty and Air Force High Command believed that the Earth is hollow. (33)

 

The Rugen experiment was, of course, a miserable failure. The Nazi hierarchy turned their backs on the Hohlweltlehre and on Peter Bender himself, who was sent to his death in a concentration camp.

 

Horbiger's Welteislehre, with its equally ridiculous doctrine of the eternal conflict between ice and fire in an infinite Universe, won the day.
 


The Much-abused Admiral Byrd
Few twentieth-century personalities have been more closely connected with the Hollow Earth Theory - not to mention the theory that UFOs are man-made and are based in Antarctica - than the great Arctic and Antarctic explorer Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd.

 

As we shall see in this section, and in the final chapter of this book, Admiral Byrd's exploits in the fastness of the South Polar regions have become the stuff of legend, not only in the history of the exploration of our world but also in the fields of ufology, crypto-history and paranoiac conspiracy theory.

Born into an illustrious family at Winchester, Virginia in 1888, Byrd enrolled at the United States Naval Academy at the age of twenty, and received his commission four years later, in 1912. He learned to fly in the First World War, and retained a love of and fascination with flight for the rest of his life. Following the war of 1914-1918, he conducted a number of experiments in flight over water and out of sight of land (and thus without any landmarks by which to navigate), using various scientific instruments such as bubble sextants and drift indicators. His pioneering work with this aspect of navigation led to his being appointed by the US Navy to plan the first transatlantic flight in 1919.

 

The trip was made by the US Navy Flying Boats NC1, NC3 and NC4 (the NC4 being the first plane to complete the flight, via Newfoundland and the Azores, in May of that year). (34)

Seven years later, in 1926, Byrd and Floyd Bennett became the first men to fly over the North Pole. Byrd had been appointed navigator on the proposed transpolar flight from Alaska to Spitzbergen of the US Navy dirigible Shenandoah; but the flight was cancelled by President Coolidge. Upon their return to New York, Byrd was asked by Roald Amundsen what his next objective would be. His response was matter-of-fact: to fly over the South Pole.

Byrd's first Antarctic Expedition (1928-1930) was the first to utilize aircraft, aerial cameras and snowmobiles. With his three planes - a Ford Tri-motor monoplane, a Fokker Universal and a Fairchild K3 monoplane - Byrd became the first explorer to combine aerial reconnaissance with ground surveys (making his expedition more important than that of Sir Hubert Wilkins, who had flown in Antarctica ten weeks previously).

The Second Byrd Antarctic Expedition (1933-1935) was, like the first, privately financed, thanks to the continuing American fascination with polar exploration. For most of the winter of 1934, Byrd remained alone in a meteorological hut some 120 miles into the Antarctic interior, conducting observations of the weather and aurora.

 

These observations were the first of their kind, and nearly cost Byrd his life: he was rescued from the hut by other expedition members when he fell victim to carbon monoxide poisoning.

The United States Antarctic Service Expedition (1939-1941) was led by Byrd, but financed by the US Government.

Its objectives were contained within an order from President Roosevelt in November 1939, which was received by Byrd five days later on board his ship, the North Star, in the Panama Canal Zone. Roosevelt wanted two bases to be established: East Base would be set up near Charcot Island or Alexander I Land; West Base would be built near King Edward VII Land or on the Bay of Whales.

 

The principal objective of the expedition was the mapping of the Antarctic coastline between meridians 72W and 148W, with additional mapping to be undertaken on the west coast of the Weddell Sea between Cape Eielson and the Luitpold Coast.

The expedition was a great success, with most of the mapping (700 miles of coastline) being achieved, and the establishing of two bases 1,600 miles apart by air. In addition, numerous scientific observations were made on the summit of the Antarctic Peninsula, including seismic, cosmic ray, auroral, biological, tidal and magnetic surveys. The bases were evacuated with the outbreak of the Second World War, during which Byrd returned to active service as the Chief of Naval Operations.

In the early post-war years, Byrd contributed to the organization of the US Navy Antarctic Developments Project of 1946-1947, also known as 'Operation Highjump'. The project was one of the first military events of the Cold War, and was designed to offer US personnel experience of operating in polar conditions. Operation Highjump deployed 4,700 men, 33 aircraft, 13 ships and 10 caterpillar tractors, and also saw the first use of helicopters and icebreakers in Antarctica.

 

Since Operation Highjump has become one of the most notorious and significant events in the crypto-history of post-war Nazi activities, we must leave an in-depth examination for the final chapter. For now, let us turn our attention to the reasons for Richard Byrd being so closely identified with the concept of a hollow Earth.

The blame can be laid firmly at the doors of three central figures in the Hollow Earth debate: Amadeo Giannini, Raymond Bernard and Ray Palmer. All three made astonishing claims regarding Rear Admiral Byrd's voyage over the North Pole in 1947 - a voyage that did not, in fact, take place: we have already seen that he was not in the Arctic in 1947 but in Antarctica. (Giannini got around this inconvenient fact by claiming that Byrd made a secret trip to the Arctic in 1947.) Before we meet these three fascinating characters, we must pause to consider their claims that, regardless of their veracity, have become central in the argument for a hollow Earth and which are still cited by proponents of this bizarre theory.

The claims arise from certain comments made by Byrd about the North Polar regions. In February 1947, Byrd reportedly said: 'I'd like to see that land beyond the Pole. That area beyond the Pole is the centre of the great unknown.' This was followed by his mythical flight in that year, which took him 1,700 miles beyond the North Pole.

 

During this flight, he is said to have reported by radio that he saw vast areas of ice-free land with mountains, forests, lakes, rivers and lush vegetation. He even saw a large animal, resembling a mammoth, lumbering through the undergrowth! (35) Nine years later, in January 1956, Byrd is said to have made similarly monumental discoveries during a United States expedition to Antarctica, during which they 'accomplished a flight of 2,700 miles from the base at McMurdo Sound, which is 400 miles west of the South Pole, and penetrated a land extent of 2,300 miles beyond the Pole'. (36)

 

Upon his return, Byrd stated that the expedition had 'opened up a vast new land'. Shortly before his death in 1957, Byrd referred to 'that enchanted continent in the sky, land of everlasting mystery'. (37)

For believers in the hollow Earth, these statements were a godsend: apparently corroborative testimony from a highly respected explorer. The interpretation was straightforward: the Earth really does have a vast opening at each Pole, leading to the hollow interior, and it was into these openings that Byrd had flown. The 'vast new land' was actually the lip of the South Polar opening, the curvature of which was so gradual that Byrd did not realize he was well on his way into the inner Earth. The 'enchanted continent in the sky' was none other than the fabulous Rainbow City, home of the hidden super-civilization that operated the UFOs. (38)

As the more responsible commentators on this subject state (often with noticeable relish), there is absolutely no evidence that the Earth is a hollow globe, and the statements attributed to Rear Admiral Byrd do not refer to journeys (witting or unwitting) into the Polar openings.

 

As W.A. Harbinson and Joscelyn Godwin state, the 'great unknown' and the 'land beyond the Pole' are merely descriptions of those parts of Antarctica that had yet to be explored; the 'enchanted continent in the sky' was 'no more than a description of a phenomenon common in Antarctic conditions: the mirage-like reflection of the land below'.(39)

Harbinson continues with his sweeping away of the nonsense that has developed around Byrd's exploratory flights:

[W]hat, precisely, did Rear Admiral Byrd say? In extracts from his journal, published in the National Geographic magazine of October 1947, he wrote: 'As I write this, we are circling the South Pole ... The Pole is approximately 2500 feet [760 meters] below us. On the other side of the Pole we are looking into that vast unknown area we have struggled so hard to reach.'

Did Byrd claim to have flown 1,700 miles (2,750 kilometers) beyond the North Pole in February 1947? No. Describing his flight beyond the South Pole on 16 February 1947 he wrote: 'We flew to approximately latitude 8830' south, an estimated 100 miles [160 kilometers]. Then we made approximately a right-angle turn eastward until we reached the 45th east meridian, when we turned again, this time on the way back to Little America.'

Did Byrd report seeing on his journey, not ice and snow, but land areas consisting of mountains, forests, green vegetation, lakes and rivers: and, in the undergrowth, a strange animal that resembled a mammoth? No. According to his journal: 'Altogether we had surveyed nearly 10,000 square miles [25,900 square kilometers] of "the country beyond the Pole". As was to be expected, although it is somewhat disappointing to report, there was no observable feature of any significance beyond the Pole. There was only the rolling white desert from horizon to horizon.' (40)

It is a fundamental feature of 'paranormal' debate that believers will always find a way around skeptics' arguments, and also, of course, that skeptics will always find a way to rubbish the evidence provided by believers.

 

The Hollow Earth theory is no exception, and Rear Admiral Byrd's voyages of Polar discovery continue to be presented as incontrovertible proof of the existence of the Polar openings and the fabulous lands and creatures within, in spite of the fact that those voyages, epoch-making as they were, revealed little more than ice.

 

As we shall now see, Byrd's flights served as the inspiration for ever more elaborate variations on the basic Hollow Earth theme.
 


Amadeo Giannini and the Physical Continuity of the Universe
The first writer to appropriate Rear Admiral Byrd's polar experiences (real or otherwise) in support of his own cosmological theories was Amadeo Giannini, who had had a kind of extrasensory revelation about the structure of the Earth and the surrounding Universe while walking through a forest in New England in October 1926.

 

Like Symmes before him, Giannini spent many years attempting to gain both official recognition for his theory from orthodox scientists and astronomers and adequate funds to mount an expedition to the Polar regions to prove it. Again like Symmes, he was frustrated in both endeavors.

In 1959 he produced a book entitled Worlds Beyond the Poles that was published by the New York vanity publisher Vantage Press at a cost to Giannini of $3,000 and that set out, in confusing and badly written prose, his argument concerning what he called the 'Physical Continuity of the Universe'. The theory was bizarre even by the standards of the Hollow Earth thinking that had spawned Bender's Hohlweltlehre.

 

According to Giannini, our belief that the Earth is a sphere floating in space is the result of an optical illusion: the Earth is actually physically connected to the rest of the Universe at the Poles.

In Giannini's view, Byrd, in flying beyond the Poles, had managed to reach the lands connecting this world to the next. Indeed, according to David Hatcher Childress, Giannini was the first to quote the great explorer's words about the 'land beyond the pole' and the 'great unknown'. Giannini stated: 'It must be conceded that the land beyond to which Admiral Byrd referred had to be land beyond and out of bounds of theoretic Earth extent. If it had been considered part of the mathematized Earth it would not have been referred to as the "center of the great unknown." (41)

 

As we have already noted, it is a considerable leap of logic to take a poetic description of an unexplored land and claim that it connotes a hollow or infinitely extensive planet.
 


Ray Palmer, Richard Shaver and the Horror Beneath Our Feet
Anxious that his revolutionary theory should reach as wide an audience as possible, Giannini sent a copy of Worlds Beyond the Poles to the man most likely to give it a sympathetic reading: Raymond Palmer. Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1910, Palmer would become something of a Renaissance man in the fields of the bizarre and unusual, writing science fiction stories, editing pulp magazines and founding Fate, the world's longest-running journal of the paranormal.

It has to be said that life did not deal him the best of hands: at the age of seven he was run over by a truck and his back was broken; two years later, a failed spinal operation left him with a hunchback, and this, combined with a growth-hormone deficiency, resulted in an adult height of just four feet.

 

Understandably enough, this led him to become something of a loner, with a voracious appetite for reading, particularly the fantastic romances that were becoming increasingly popular in the 1920s and 1930s. Palmer was also a great fan of Hugo Gernsback's pulp science fiction magazine Amazing Stones, the first of its kind. (The term 'pulp' comes from the low-grade paper on which these popular magazines were printed.)

 

Palmer organized the first-ever science fiction fan club, the Science Correspondence Club, and founded the first SF fanzine, The Comet, in 1930. Over the next few years, he wrote a number of stories for the pulps before becoming editor of Amazing Stories in 1938. At that time, the magazine was in serious difficulties, but Palmer turned it around with an emphasis on romantic, suspenseful and picaresque adventures.

 

Under his editorship, the magazine's circulation rose by several tens of thousands. (42)

The principal reason for the improvement in the fortunes of Amazing Stories was Palmer's knack of spotting what his reading public wanted and giving it to them, in spite of criticism from many of the 'hard' SF fans who later deserted him for John W. Campbell's Astounding Science Fiction, which published the technology-orientated fiction of people like Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov and A.E. van Vogt.

 

However, the success or failure of magazines depends very much on their performance at the news-stands, and by that criterion Amazing was doing just fine. Palmer noticed that his readers seemed fascinated by the idea of lost civilizations -not to mention the paintings of nubile young women in skintight costumes that frequently graced the magazine's covers. This sexual imagery, combined with cosmic mysticism, seemed to Palmer a potentially lucrative mixture, and it did not escape his notice that Amazing always seemed to jump in circulation whenever it featured a story about Atlantis or Lemuria.

 

This led Palmer to wonder how best he might capitalize on this curious interest among his readers. In late 1943, he found the answer in the form of a strange letter from a man named Richard Shaver.

Born in Berwick, Pennsylvania in 1907, Richard Sharpe Shaver was very fond of playing pranks on people, which earned him a somewhat dubious reputation. As a child, he had had two imaginary companions, one good, the other evil, who became more real to him than the living people around him. (43)

 

After graduating from high school he worked for a meat packer and then a tree surgeon before moving to Detroit and enrolling in the Wicker School of Art. In 1930, Shaver joined a communist group called the John Reed Club (named after the American correspondent who had reported on the Russian Revolution).(44)

 

Like just about everyone else, Shaver fell on hard times with the arrival of the Depression, but managed to eke out a living as a part-time art instructor at the Wicker Art School, supplementing his meager income by going to a park and selling sketches of passers-by for 25 cents each.

In 1933, Shaver married a fellow art student named Sophie Gurivinch who had come originally from Kiev in the Ukraine. They had a daughter the same year, and Shaver took a job as a welder in Highland Park, Michigan. He continued in this job for about a year until he suffered heat stroke, lost the power of speech and was admitted to the Ypsilanti State Hospital for two weeks.

 

In February 1934, Shaver's brother Tate, to whom he had been very close, died. His brother's death affected Shaver very badly and he became increasingly depressed and paranoid, claiming that people were following him. However, as Childress notes, (45) as a known communist, Shaver may well have been genuinely under surveillance.

Shaver received another blow when his wife Sophie died in a mysterious accident in her apartment (they were living separately at the time). While Shaver returned to his welding job, their daughter went to live with Sophie's parents (who apparently told her that her father, too, was dead). (46) For the next few years, Shaver travelled around North America, finding the odd job here and there and marrying again. The marriage was short-lived, his wife leaving him when she found papers indicating that he had been in a sanitarium. Shaver moved back to Pennsylvania and married for a third time.

In 1936, he came across an article in Science World magazine.

 

Entitled 'The True Basis of Today's Alphabet' and written by a man named Albert F. Yeager, the article claimed that there were six letters in our alphabet that represented concepts in addition to sounds. These six letters could thus be used as a key to unlock the hidden meanings in words. In response to this article, Shaver wrote to Science World, claiming that he understood the hidden concepts behind all the letters of the alphabet.

 

He called this conceptual language 'Mantong'.

After several years of work with the Mantong language, Shaver wrote the following letter to Amazing Stones in September 1943:

Sirs:

Am sending this in hopes you will insert it in an issue to keep it from dying with me. It would arouse a lot of discussion. Am sending you the language so that some time you can have it looked at by someone in the college or a friend who is a student of antique times. The language seems to me to be definite proof of the Atlantean legend.

A great number of our English words have come down intact as romantic - ro man tic - 'science of man life patterning by control.' Trocadero - t ro see a dero -'good one see a bad one' - applied now to theatre. This is perhaps the only copy of this language in existence and it represents my work over a long period of years. It is an immensely important find, suggesting the god legends have a base in some wiser race than modern man; but to understand it takes a good head as it contains multi-thoughts like many puns on the same subject. It is too deep for ordinary man - who thinks it is a mistake.

 

A little study reveals ancient words in English occurring many times. It should be saved and placed in wise hands. I can't, will you? It really has an immense significance, and will perhaps put me right in your thoughts again if you will really understand this.

I need a little encouragement.

-R.S. Shaver,

Barto, Pennsylvania (47)

Enclosed with this letter was the Roman alphabet together with its associated Mantong concepts, which Childress reprints in his excellent book Lost Continents and the Hollow Earth:

  1. Animal (used AN for short)

  2. Be (to exist - often command)

  3. See

  4. (also used DE) Disintegrate energy; Detrimental (most important symbol in language)

  5. Energy (an all concept, including motion)

  6. Fecund (use FE as in female - fecund man)

  7. Generate (used GEN)

  8. Human (some doubt on this one)

  9. Self; Ego (same as our I)

  10. (see G) (same as generate)

  11. Kinetic (force of motion)

  12. Life

  13. Man

  14. Child; Spore; Seed

  15. Orifice (a source concept)

  16. Power

  17. Quest (as question)

  18. (used as AR) Horror (symbol of dangerous quantity of dis force in the object)

  19. (SIS) (an important symbol of the sun)

  20. (used as TE) (the most important symbol; origin of the cross symbol) Integration; Force of growth (the intake of T is cause of gravity; the force is T; tic meant science of growth; remains as credit word)

  21. You

  22. Vital (used as VI) (the stuff Mesmer calls animal magnetism; sex appeal)

  23. Will

  24. Conflict (crossed force lines)

  25. Why

  26. Zero (a quantity of energy of T neutralized by an equal quantity of D) (48)

By applying these strange hidden meanings behind the letters of the alphabet, one can perceive even stranger hidden meanings behind various words.

 

Childress supplies a number of examples, but we need only detain ourselves with a couple. The word BAD, for instance, can be interpreted as 'Be a de', to be a destructive force. LADY is interpreted as 'Lay de', a complimentary term meaning to allay depression. The reader will note that in both of these examples, the letter D (DE) is used, meaning unpleasant, destructive and detrimental. The letters D and T were of great importance to Shaver, as we shall see shortly.

At this point, it is worth noting a peculiar similarity between Shaver's strange interpretation of the alphabet and the spurious power and significance perceived by Rudolf John Gorsleben, the Edda Society and Karl-Maria Wiligut in the runes of Norse mythology (see Chapters One and Six). In each case, a hidden history of humanity was to be discovered by careful examination of the components of written language - with the aid, that is, of an overheated imagination. It must be added, however, that in Shaver's case the result was harmless, if somewhat lurid entertainment; while the historical and linguistic fantasizing of the Edda Society and its members became one of the motivators of racial hatred.

Shaver's letter landed on the desk of Amazing's, associate editor Howard Browne. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he threw it into his waste basket as soon as he had finished reading it, dismissing Shaver as a crackpot. (49)

 

Palmer, however, was intrigued and decided to publish both the letter and the accompanying alphabet in the December 1943 issue of Amazing Stones. Alongside Shaver's material was a caption that read:

'We present this interesting letter concerning an ancient language with no comment, except to say that we applied the letter-meaning to the individual letters of many old root words and proper names and got an amazing "sense" out of them. Perhaps if readers interested were to apply his formula to more of these root words, we will [sic] be able to discover if the formula applies ...' (50)

Palmer proved more perspicacious than his colleague Howard Browne: the December issue prompted hundreds of people to write in claiming that the Mantong alphabet really did release the hidden meanings of words.

 

Encouraged by this response, Palmer wrote to Shaver asking for more information on the Mantong language and how his understanding of it had developed. Shaver responded by sending a 10,000-word manuscript evocatively entitled 'A Warning to Future Man'. Palmer felt that this was the circulation-booster he had been looking for: the article detailed the hidden history of the Earth, complete with ancient spacefaring civilizations, lost continents, sex, violence and high adventure.

 

Shaver's writing style, however, was not as impressive as his subject matter, and Palmer decided to rewrite 'A Warning to Future Man', turning it into a 31,000-word story which he retitled 'I Remember Lemuria!' and published in the March 1945 issue of Amazing Stones. (51)

In this story and the many others that followed it (all of which were billed as true), Shaver painted a terrifying picture of a world honeycombed with vast caverns and tunnel systems containing enormous cities and advanced technology. Shaver's awareness of this world had begun while he was a welder in Highland Park in 1932.

 

He realized that one of the welding guns was somehow allowing him to read the thoughts of his fellow workers in the factory. As if this were not bizarre enough, he also began to pick up the thoughts of evil creatures living far underground - creatures that apparently had the power to kidnap surface people and subject them to unthinkable tortures in their secret underground caverns. 'The voices came from beings I came to realize were not human; not normal modern men at all. They lived in great caves far beneath the surface. These alien minds I listened to seemed to know that they had great power, seemed conscious of the fact they were evil.' (52)

 

This realization proved too much for Shaver: he quit his job and embarked on the aimless wanderings through North America mentioned earlier. During this time he was tormented by invisible, deleterious rays projected at him by the evil subterraneans. Eventually, however, he was contacted by a beautiful young woman named Nydia who was a member of another subterranean group opposed to the evil ones. Needless to say, they became lovers and with her help Shaver was able to gain entry into the underworld and access the 'thought records' that contained the fantastic history of the Earth.

According to the thought records, the Sun was originally a huge planet whose coal beds were ignited by a meteor strike, transforming it into a star. Since this star burned coal(!), it radiated clean, positive energy.

 

The Earth was then colonized by two spacefaring civilizations, the Titans and the Atlans, who possessed marvelous technological devices,

'such as the ben-ray, which broadcast healing energies; the stim-ray, which prolonged and heightened sexual pleasure; the telesolidograph, which could broadcast three-dimensional images; the penetray, used to observe events from vast distances; and the telepathic augmenter or telaug, which transmitted thought.' (53)

The Atlans and Titans called the Earth Lemuria, and lived in Utopian bliss until 20,000 years ago, when the Sun's outer shell was destroyed and it entered its current phase, producing harmful radiation, called d, de or dis.

 

This disintegrant energy is the opposite of t or te, the integrative, formative energy in Shaver's dualistic world view. Their immortality under threat, the Atlans and Titans excavated gargantuan caverns and tunnels far below Lemuria/Earth's surface, in which they built fantastically huge cities, the largest of which would dwarf New York or London. These subterranean realms shielded the entire Titan and Atlan population, some 50 billion individuals. However, the underground cities did not prove a permanent solution and 12,000 years ago Lemuria/Earth was abandoned in favor of younger star systems. (54)

Many Lemurians had already fallen victim to the debilitating effects of the Sun's harmful radiation and were forced to remain on Earth. Some of them moved to the surface (the reader will not be surprised to learn that these were the ancestors of Homo sapiens), while the ones who remained in the subterranean realms degenerated into a race of disfigured, idiotic and very malicious beings known as the 'dero'.

 

This word is a contraction of 'abandondero', and is based on the Mantong words 'de' (meaning negative or destructive) and 'ro' (meaning subservient). Hence the deros were, literally, controlled by negative forces. The group to which Shaver's exotic girlfriend belonged are known as the 'tero', or integrative ro, 'te' denoting positive or constructive energy. The tero, who somehow managed to avoid contamination by the Sun's radiation, are locked in a constant struggle with their unpleasant cousins.

According to Shaver, the fiendish, sadistic and perverted dero kidnap thousands of hapless surface-dwellers every year, and take them into their cavern cities where they are tortured, sexually abused, used as slave labour or eaten. Although fundamentally stupid and brutal, the dero nevertheless know how to use the fabulous machinery left behind by the Lemurians and are able to spread evil and destruction throughout the world by means of dis rays.

 

As Bruce Lanier Wright wryly notes:

'If you doubt this, you may be suffering from brain damage. Vast numbers of surface worlders - you, me, and most certainly Richard Shaver - have been slyly lobotomized by rays projected from the caverns.' (55)

The response to 'I Remember Lemuria!' was astonishing. Not only did the March 1945 issue of Amazing sell out but Palmer received a torrent of mail, numbering thousands of letters, many of which were from people claiming to have had bizarre experiences with the denizens of the fabulous subterranean world.

 

One letter, from an ex-Air Force captain, read in part:

For heaven's sake drop the whole thing! You are playing with dynamite. My companion and I fought our way out of a cave with submachine guns. I have two 9-inch scars on my left arm ... [M]y friend has a hole the size of a dime in his right biceps. It was scarred inside. How we don't know. But we both believe we know more about The Shaver Mystery than any other pair ... [D]on't print our names. We are not cowards, but we are not crazy.(56)

While the above may or may not be true (Childress suggests that Palmer himself may have fabricated it), there is no doubt that many thousands of people were deeply affected by 'the Shaver Mystery', and wrote to Palmer to tell him so. Many had tales of encounters with strange people who may have been deros, while others complained that they, too, were hearing bizarre voices in their heads. Some even claimed to have visited the cavern-world itself.

By now, the phrase 'paranoid schizophrenia' will surely have suggested itself to the reader. To be sure, Shaver's claims sound very much like he was suffering from this condition: the voices in the head experienced in connection with a mechanical device (the welding gun) are classic symptoms, as is the belief that unpleasant influences are being projected at the victim through air ducts, pipes and so on. As Peebles notes, paranoid schizophrenics 'commonly believe a death ray is causing health problems, destroying their brain, or causing them to hear voices'. (57)

 

This sounds remarkably like what the hapless Shaver was apparently going through, and yet it falls far short of explaining why the number of letters to Amazing Stories jumped from 50 per month before the Shaver Mystery to 2,500 per month during and after, virtually all of which maintained that something sinister and terrifying really was going on beneath the Earth's surface.

Palmer himself was reluctant to commit himself on the veracity of Shaver's claims. While he invariably supported Shaver, he also suggested that the dero caverns might not exist as physical locations in this dimension, but rather on the astral plane. However, Palmer did make the perhaps inevitable claim that he himself had heard the voices of the cavern dwellers while visiting Shaver and his last wife, Dorothy, at their Pennsylvania home.

Palmer claimed that he heard five disembodied voices discussing the dismemberment of a human being in a cavern four miles below. For his part, Shaver maintained that the deros and teros did not live on some astral plane but were solid, flesh-and-blood beings, and that the cavern world was a real place.

Despite its huge popularity with the readers of Amazing Stones, the Shaver Mystery prompted a powerful backlash among diverse groups, including hard science fiction fans who objected to a pornographic fantasy being marketed as truth (and who organized a campaign to boycott the magazine) and various occult groups who criticized Palmer for releasing information that would surely prove lethal to anyone inexperienced or foolish enough to attempt an exploration of the caverns.

 

 At the end of 1948, the Ziff-Davis Publishing Company, which published Amazing, decided that enough was enough, and the Shaver Mystery was dropped from the magazine, in spite of the fact that Shaver's 'revelations' had virtually doubled its readership and enabled it to move from quarterly to monthly publication. (58)

Palmer would later claim that the Shaver Mystery had been suppressed by a publisher 'too sedate' for material of this nature. However, Wright notes that Palmer's relations with Ziff-Davis had become rather strained, possibly as a result of his launching Fate magazine. (Palmer left Amazing in 1949 to concentrate on his new publication.) (59)

 

According to Jim Probst in his book Shaver: The Early Years:

'The Queens Science Fiction League of New York passed a resolution that the Shaver stories endangered the sanity of their readers, and brought the resolution before the Society for the Suppression of Vice. A fan conference in Philadelphia was rocked by threats to draw up a petition to the Post Office, asking that Amazing Stories be banned from the mail.' (60)

This was not the end of the Shaver Mystery, however; it would later inspire a number of people to start their own publications. Richard Toronto published Shavertron between 1979 and 1985. Subtitled 'The Only Source of Post-Deluge Shaverania', the magazine reported on the continuing activities of the nefarious dero, such as the time they apparently interfered with Toronto's car while it was parked on a steep hillside and he was standing in front of it (Toronto barely managed to avoid being run over and killed). (61)

The Hollow Hassle was published by Mary Le Vesque between 1979 and 1983 and featured a regular column by the Rev Charles A. Marcoux, a fascinating and colorful character who claimed to have hunted the deros during his many cave explorations. In the August 1981 issue of The Hollow Hassle he wrote (in typically muddled syntax):

'My experiences in the cavern world began at a very young age with astral experiences in the caverns ever since my birth, and in other worlds from other dimensions too. I joined R. A. Palmer and R. S. Shaver's group in January of 1945, and I am one of the few original members left. I still "SEARCH FOR THE PORTALS," and as far as I know, am the only original member who does.' (62)

The Hollow Earth Insider ran for a few years in the early 1990s. Edited by Dennis Crenshaw, the journal included reprinted material by Shaver, in addition to news clippings and conspiracy theories, such as government (and dero) mind control. As Childress notes, the concept of mind control was central to the Shaver Mystery and adds the intriguing speculation that Shaver himself may well have been a victim. (We will take a closer look at the subject of mind control in the next chapter.)

Palmer made a last effort to perpetuate the Shaver Mystery in the early 1960s with The Hidden World, a trade paperback series that contained reprints of the original Shaver stories, together with yet more tales from people claiming to have encountered and been victimized by the fiendish deros. Unfortunately, The Hidden World was not particularly successful and publication ceased in 1964.

 

Shaver himself claimed to have discovered pictorial records of the Titans and Atlans hidden within the rocks and stones of the Wisconsin prairies in the 1950s, and for the rest of his life tried in vain to persuade various scientists that they constituted final proof of the reality of the cavern world. He died of a heart attack in 1975.

 

Palmer continued to publish journals, although none even approached the success of Amazing Stories and Fate. He died in 1977.

Before we continue, we must pause to examine what Palmer and many others considered to be the most impressive evidence for the Hollow Earth Theory, and which is still cited as proof that we are indeed living on the surface of a hollow sphere. In view of the ease with which this 'evidence' can be dismissed (and has been by a number of the more responsible commentators on this subject), it is surprising that so many writers still cling to it with such misguided tenacity.

In 1970, the Environmental Science Service Administration of the US Department of Commerce made public a collection of photographs taken by their weather satellite ESSA7 in November 1968. Several of these photographs contained, at first sight, an absolutely extraordinary image: an enormous dark area where the Earth's North Pole should have been.

 

When Palmer saw the photographs, he had no hesitation in reproducing them in his magazine Flying Saucers, with an accompanying article stating that here, at last, was the proof - and from an official source - that there was indeed a gigantic opening at the North Pole, leading to the hollow interior of the planet.

The true reason for the dark area in the photographs was nowhere near as romantic and exciting as the Hollow Earthers would have their readers believe. The ESSA-7 photographs were actually photomosaics containing many hundreds of elements, rather than single exposures. Due to the satellite's orbital trajectory, the area at and immediately around the Pole had not been included in these photomosaics - they had simply not been photographed, and thus showed up as dark areas on the images.

 

Unfortunately, this explanation has not dissuaded certain sensationalist writers from citing the ESSA-7 pictures, even to this day, as conclusive proof that the Earth is hollow. (63)

There is perhaps some truth in Peebles's assertion that the Shaver Mystery constituted, in effect, a modern mythology that served a number of functions, including escapism from post-war reality and the incipient threat of the Cold War; an answer to the question of why there was so much evil and suffering in the world; and, of course, an exciting corollary to the perceived menace of Communism: a new enemy whose very existence could be used to define the contrasting, positive attributes of the American Way.

 

Palmer himself was a clever manipulator (if that is not too strong a word) of the public need both for escapism and for an explanation of the violence and evil that seemed to characterize life on Earth (it was all the fault of the deros).

 

This was further illustrated by his reaction to the rise of the UFO mystery, which came to the world's attention with Kenneth Arnold's sighting of nine crescent-shaped objects over Mount Rainier in Washington State on 24 June 1947. Arnold's sighting was followed by a torrent of reports of strange objects flitting through the skies.

 

In the pages of Fate magazine, Palmer instantly provided the answer to the puzzle: some of the UFOs were indeed alien spacecraft, but most were vessels piloted by the denizens of the cavern world. (We will look much more closely at the UFO mystery, which has become intimately connected to the idea of Nazi survival, in the next chapter.)

 

Whatever the underlying truth (if any) of the claims of Shaver, Palmer and others about the strange and frightening drama constantly being played out beneath our feet, the Shaver Mystery has come to define the Hollow Earth Theory in the twentieth century and now occupies a central position in the complex network of rumors, speculations, cryptohistorical inferences, anomalous events and genuine government violations of public trust that constitutes modern conspiracy theory.
 


Raymond Bernard and the 'Greatest Geographical Discovery in History'
Perhaps the most famous of all books published on the subject of the hollow Earth is entitled (unsurprisingly) The Hollow Earth and is subtitled (unbelievably) 'The Greatest Geographical Discovery in History'. Its author was yet another colorful and far from trustworthy personality named Walter Siegmeister, although he also went under other names, for reasons that will become clear.

Siegmeister was born in New York in 1901. His father's occupation as a doctor perhaps had something to do with the boy's intense fascination with sexual reproduction and the male and female reproductive anatomy (he was particularly interested in menstruation).(64)

 

After completing his education at Columbia University and New York University (he gained a bachelor's degree from Columbia in 1924 and a master's degree and doctorate from NYU in 1930 and 1932), Siegmeister moved to Florida in 1933 where he published a newsletter entitled Diet and Health, through which he promulgated his opinions on the benefits of raw food and a healthy lifestyle.
 

Heinrich Himmler (1900-1945) Reichsfuhrer-SS,

chief of the German Police (The Trustees of the Imperial War Museum, London)
 


Madame Blavatsky, (1831-1891)

founder of the Theosophical Society (Fortean Picture Library)
 


Thule Society emblem (David Hatcher Childress)

 

Plastic swastika badges.

Each depicts the use of the swastika in antiquity - a subject dear to Himmler's heart (Robin Lumsden)

 

Runic symbols used by the SS. For a complete guide to runic symbols as used by the SS,

see Robin Lumsden's Himmler's Black Order 1923-1945 (Sutton Publishing)

 

Karl-Maria Wiligut-Weisthor in 1936

(Kreismuseum Wewelsburg)
 


Various views of the 'totenkopf or death's head ring, displaying runic symbols

(Robin Lumsden)
 


This oak shield, carved with runic symbols, was typical of the wall decorations hung in Wewelsberg castle

(Robin Lumsden)
 


Hitler speaking in the Reichstag

(The Trustees of the Imperial War Museum, London)
 


A Nazi rally, 1936

(The Trustees of the Imperial War Museum, London)

 

The Externsteine in the Teutoburger Wald near Paderborn, Germany - a place of mythological significance in Aryan history

(Karl Aarsleff/Fortean Picture Library)
 


A pseudo-pagan solstice celebration 1937, sponsored by the SS and held in the Berlin Olympic Stadium

(Robin Lumsden)
 


Hitler in 'blood banner' ceremony. A feature of Nazi rallies was the dedication of new standards.

This was always done by Hitler who held a corner of the banner in his hand and joined this with the banner that was to be dedicated.

He then shook hands with the senior officer of the escort, in this case a Standarten-fuhrer of the S.A.

(The Trustees of the Imperial War Museum, London)
 


Edward G.E.L. Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873), author of The Coming Race

(Mary Evans Picture Library)
 


Pulp science fiction writer Richard Shaver's Hidden World series

(Fortean Picture Library)

 

Map of the mythical realms of Agharta and Shambala

(SpiritWeb)
 


German scientist Neupert's illustration of the 'hollow earth' 1935

(Mary Evans Picture Library)
 


Rear Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd (1888-1957)

flew Over the South Pole on 29 November 1929 with three companions and Igloo his pet terrier

(Fortean Picture Library)
 


Emblem of the Deutsche Antarktische Expedition 1938-9

(David Hatcher Childress)

 

Antarctic topography as surveyed by the Nazis

(David Hatcher Childress)
 


Nazi Germany's wartime rocket chief Walter Dornberger seen here on the left with Werner von Braun in 1944

(David Hatcher Childress)
 


Dornberger in 1954 after entering the United States under Project Paperclip.

He went on to emerge as senior executive of the Bell Aerosystems Division of Textron

(David Hatcher Childress)

 

Viktor Schauberger (1885-1958), Austrian inventor of a number of 'flying discs'

who supposedly worked on a top secret project in Texas after the war.

On his death bed he said over and over: 'They took everything from me. I don't even own myself.'

(David Hatcher Childress)

 

Artist's impression of a Schriever flying disc

( Lee Krystek 1998)
 


Artist's impression of the Bellonzo Schriever-Miethe Disc

( James H. Nichols 1991)
 

After a disastrous business partnership with a confidence trickster named G.R. Clements, during which they sold useless, waterlogged land to people wishing to grow crops, Siegmeister fled the United States and the legal action with which he was threatened, and went to Equador in 1941.

 

There he met a friend, John Wierlo, who had moved from America the previous year, and together they conceived the idea of creating a new Utopia and a 'super-race' somewhere in the jungles in the east of the country. The 'Adam' of this scheme would be Wierlo (by all accounts an impressive example of manhood); the 'Eve' would be a 24-year-old woman named Marian Windish, a hermit who had apparently lived for two years in the Equadorian jungle. (65)

 

The new Utopia, however, was not to be: Wierlo later claimed that he had no intention of creating a super-race, and it also transpired that Marian Windish was already married.

 

Wierlo also accused Siegmeister of faking an ability to walk on water by means of a series of supports just below the surface. So outlandish were Siegmeister's claims of miraculous powers and meetings with Tibetan masters on Equadorian mountains (many of which appeared in the American press) that he was forbidden from using the US Mail Service and deported by the Equadorian Immigration Department. (66)

Upon his return to the United States, Siegmeister, now using the name Dr Robert Raymond, continued his promotion of a healthy diet by selling health foods and two books he had written, entitled Are You Being Poisoned lay the Food You Eat? and Super-Health thru Organic Super-Foods. He then began travelling again throughout South America, selling his books through mail order, now under the name Dr Uriel Adriana, AB, MA, PhD. When his mother died in 1955, leaving him a substantial amount of money, he moved to Brazil and bought a large plot of land with the intention of continuing his efforts to create a super-race.

 

In his 1955 book Escape From Destruction, which he again wrote under the pseudonym Raymond Bernard, he warned of a coming nuclear war, from which a few people would be saved by extraterrestrials who would take them to Mars. (67)

While in Brazil, Siegmeister came across an odd book entitled From the Subterranean World to the Sky by one O. C. Huguenin who seems to have held a high position in the Brazilian Theosophical Society. In common with Shaver, Huguenin claimed that the UFOs were the handiwork of an ancient civilization (Huguenin claimed they were the Atlanteans) that had built them 12,000 years ago, just before the destruction of their continent.

 

Some Atlanteans escaped the cataclysm by taking their craft through the Polar openings and reestablishing their fabulous civilisation in the inner Earth. The reason UFOs were being seen by so many surface dwellers was that the Atlanteans were concerned at humanity's use of nuclear energy (concerns that were also attributed to the so-called 'Space Brothers' by the American contactees of the 1950s - see Chapter Eight).

At this time, two Theosophist friends of Huguenin, Commander Paulo Strauss and Professor Henrique de Souza, were also actively promoting in Brazil the idea of the hollow Earth: Strauss by lecturing widely about a UFO base called Agharta, and de Souza by claiming that he was in contact with the Atlanteans. (68) Siegmeister also claimed to have met an Atlantean woman (who looked like an eighteen-year-old, but who was actually 70) at the Theosophical Society Headquarters in Sao Lourenco.

 

At one of these meetings, de Souza told Siegmeister that Brazil contained a number of tunnels leading down to the inner Earth (Childress notes that one of the tunnels was supposed to be in the Roncador Mountains of the Matto Grosso, the region in which the famous explorer Colonel Percy Fawcett disappeared in 1925). (69)

 

According to de Souza, Fawcett was still alive and well in an Atlantean city, although he was prevented from leaving in case the surface dwellers forced him to reveal its whereabouts. Although he claimed to have made many trips into the Roncador Mountains, Siegmeister never found any of the tunnel entrances.

When some friends in America sent him a copy of Ray Palmer's journal Flying Saucers, containing articles about Rear Admiral Byrd's flights and the Hollow Earth Theory, Siegmeister went into creative overdrive, writing Agharta, The Subterranean World and Flying Saucers from the Earth's Interior.

 

At this time, 1960, Siegmeister received a letter from one Ottmar Kaub, who was a member of an organization called UFO World Research based in St Louis, Missouri. Kaub was writing on behalf of the organization's leader, Dr. George Marlo, who claimed to have visited the inner Earth on board a UFO, and who wished to live at Siegmeister's Brazilian colony. Dr Marlo claimed to know two beings called Sol-Mar and Zola, who lived in a city called Masars II, underneath South Africa. Sol-Mar and Zola described the inner Earth as a paradise with a perfect climate, giant fruits, beautiful birds with 30-foot wingspans, and where the people grew to over 12 feet tall. (70)

For the next few years, Marlo tantalized Siegmeister with promises of a meeting with Sol-Mar and Zola - meetings that were always unavoidably postponed for various reasons. Eventually, Siegmeister realized that Marlo was lying about his contacts with the Inner Earthers and decided to continue his researches alone.

In 1964, he managed to find a New York publisher for his last book, The Hollow Earth, which was largely a rewrite of Flying Saucers from the Earth's Interior and also borrowed heavily from Reed, Gardner and Giannini. The book sold well, but unfortunately Siegmeister did not live to enjoy its success: he died of pneumonia in 1965.

 

Although The Hollow Earth contains a great deal of material from earlier writers, it is distinguished by its lengthy treatment of the idea that the governments of the world are well aware of the 'fact' that UFOs are spacecraft, and that they come from the inner Earth (it was one of the first books to pay serious attention to this idea). In addition, Siegmeister was one of the first writers to suggest that the US and Soviet Governments were secret allies in the face of the potential threat posed by the Inner Earth civilization, a claim that has become an integral part of modern conspiracy theory. (71)

Siegmeister's greatest legacy, however, must be the identification of Brazil as the most significant location in the mythology of the hollow Earth. Not only is that country a hot spot for UFO activity and encounters with apparent 'aliens', it also contains possibly more subterranean tunnel networks and entrances to the inner Earth than any other country. Before moving on, we may cast a glance at some of the reports that have recently been coming out of Brazil concerning some rather unusual discoveries.

 

For instance, the Brazilian organization Sociedade de Estudos Extrater-restres (SOCEX) has spent the last few years investigating claims that an elaborate tunnel network exists in the mountains of Santa Catarina and Parana States, particularly around the town of Joinville about 190 miles south-west of Sao Paulo (which, oddly enough, was Siegmeister's base of operations in Brazil). (72)

In another SOCEX report, two men entered a tunnel near the city of Ponta Grossa, 250 miles south-west of Sao Paulo, in which they discovered a staircase leading further underground. Descending the staircase, the men found themselves in a small underground city, where they remained for five days with its 50 inhabitants. Many people have reported UFOs in the area, and some say they have heard singing, the voices apparently coming from underground. (73)

While these stories may be taken with a large grain of salt (their protagonists are invariably referred to by pseudonyms or just initials), the claim that Brazil, and indeed the rest of South America, is an important centre of UFO activity and of the belief in powerful subterranean civilizations is of considerable significance to the present study.

 

In South America we find the nexus of the ideas we shall be discussing in the last two chapters of this book: firstly, that by the end of the Second World War the Nazis had begun to develop aircraft and weapons systems radically in advance of anything in use elsewhere at the time; and secondly, that Nazism as a potent political force did not cease to exist with the defeat of the Third Reich but continues in one or more secret locations, still exerting a powerful influence on world events.

As with most aspects of what may broadly be termed 'the paranormal', the concepts of Nazi occultism and genuine Nazi occult power (the former a verifiable historical fact, the latter an unsafe extrapolation based on rumor and hearsay) have merged into one another to such a degree that a clear line of dichotomy between the two has become virtually impossible to define.

 

This will become especially apparent as we conclude this chapter on the hollow Earth and subterranean civilizations with a look at the tunnel system that is said to exist beneath South America. While legends of tunnels beneath South America have existed ever since the Spanish conquest of the continent, referring to the mysterious places where the Incas were said to have hidden most of their gold, there is some evidence for their actual existence.

 

Some modern explorers even claim to have visited them.

Chief among these is David Hatcher Childress, who has written many books on the more unorthodox aspects of archaeology and who offers an account of one such adventure he undertook in his fascinating and informative study of the Shaver Mystery and the Hollow Earth Theory, Lost Continents and the Hollow Earth. Childress describes how he followed a lead provided in a letter sent to him by one of his South American readers, named Marli, who described an opening leading to a tunnel system near the small mountain town of Sao Tome das Lettres, north of Sao Paulo.

Childress travelled to the town with Marli, and in a local restaurant they listened, together with about twenty others, to the owner as he told a strange story of a man-made tunnel extending far into the earth.

 

Marli translated the restaurant owner's Portuguese:

'The Brazilian army went into the tunnel one time to find out where it ends. After travelling for four days through the tunnel the team of Army explorers eventually came to a large room deep underground. This room had four openings to four tunnels, each going in a different direction. They had arrived in the room by one of the tunnels.

'They stayed in the room for some time, using it as their base, and attempted to explore each of the other three tunnels, but after following each for some time, turned back to the large room. Eventually they returned to the surface, here at Sao Tome das Lettres.

'... [T]here is a man here in town who claims to know the tunnel and claims that he has been many weeks inside the tunnel. This man claims that the tunnel goes all the way to Peru, to Machu Picchu in the Andes. This man claims that he went completely under South America, across Brazil and to Machu Picchu.' (74)

The restaurant owner went on to tell how he himself had encountered a strange man near the tunnel entrance one morning. The man was dressed in traditional Andean Indian clothes, and was extremely tall, approximately seven feet. As soon as he saw the restaurant owner, the man walked away without saying anything.

Childress goes on to report that the following morning he, Marli and a fellow explorer named Carl Hart went to the tunnel entrance with the intention of exploring as far as they could.

 

He continues:

I was amazed at this ancient feat of engineering. We were descending down into the earth in a wide, gradually sloping tunnel that was dug into a red, clay-type dirt. It was not the smooth, laser-cut rock walls that Erich von Daniken had claimed to have seen in Equador in his book Gold of the Gods, but it was just as incredible.

It wouldn't have taken some space-age device to make this tunnel, just simple tools; yet, it was clearly a colossal undertaking. Why would anyone build such a tunnel? Was it an ancient mine that went deep into the earth, searching for an elusive vein of gold or merely red clay for the long-gone ceramic kilns? Was it an elaborate escape tunnel used in the horrific wars that were said to have been fought in South America - and around the world - in the distant past?

 

Or was it some bizarre subterranean road that linked up with other tunnels in the Andes and ultimately could be used to journey safely to such places as Machu Picchu, Cuzco or the Atacama Desert? (75)

In the event, the answers to these questions evaded the small party: after an hour, they arrived at a point where the floor dropped approximately one meter, and decided that this was a convenient place to turn back, since the tunnel seemed to continue endlessly on, and they were not equipped for a lengthy exploration.

 

Although the group did not encounter any fabulous wonders of the subterranean realm, the very existence of the tunnel proves that the legends associated with South America have some basis in fact.

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